The boom in exotic dog breeds is leading to an increase in illegally imported pets. Three quarters of owners are involved in an investigation or see animals bought abroad with health problems.

The number of investigations by councils has increased by 26 percent in the last three years, rising from 221 in 2017 to 18 to 279 in 2019 to 20. This is evident from data obtained through freedom of information requests.

French bulldogs and dachshunds are the breeds most widely investigated for illegal importation, followed by American bulldogs, Pomeranians, chow chows, and Labradors.

Growing demand for puppies – in part from families buying them during lockdown – has seen more pet owners turn overseas.

However, 78 percent of those surveyed by Direct Line pet insurance researchers said they had a problem. 33 percent said they were involved in an illegal import that resulted in them collecting bills for quarantine and vaccinations.

Another third reported that their pet got sick after purchasing it, with half of the dogs requiring treatment.

In a recent case, Viktor Molnar, a 58-year-old Hungarian veterinarian, pleaded guilty to bringing five miniature “teacup” Dachshund puppies and running an illegal pet shop from his home in Prestwich, Manchester. He also admitted circumventing rabies laws and illegally importing puppies into the UK.

What followed was a council investigation into a complaint from Mary McFarlane, a retired schoolteacher who had traveled from Paisley to Prestwich to buy one of the puppies named Janet for £ 700. The animal fell ill on the return journey.

The Dogs Trust has raised concerns about overseas trafficking after conducting an undercover investigation into Eastern European vets caught on camera for the purpose of creating fake pet passports and fake rabies vaccination records.

Madeline Pike, a veterinarian at Direct Line, said, “While people often think they are a good Samaritan by housing a pet from another country, there can be risks involved. The regulations are often not as strict and animals can. ” carry or transmit harmful diseases.

“If an animal’s history is unknown, it can result in the owner receiving expensive vet bills due to pre-existing conditions, complications due to an illness the pet has contracted while abroad or in transit, which can even lead to it that the animal must be weaned. “